Heike Moeller November 24, 2021 Proposal
It is to your distinct advantage to follow all the instructions that are available, especially if you must submit your proposal by mail and will not have the opportunity to make a personal presentation. Standard form RFPs enable reviewers to compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges. If a reader must hunt through your document in order to find a critical point, he or she may instead prefer to toss the document aside. After all, the reviewer may think, if this person ca not even follow our directions, how can we expect a satisfactory outcome from the project?
Cover letter. Because it tells your understanding of the project and states that you are the right person, department, or company to do the job, the cover letter is the most important element of the proposal; it is also the very last item to prepare before you make your presentation. Keep it short, no more than one page. State the problem in a sentence or two and tell what you intend to do about it. Do not forget to express your appreciation for the opportunity to submit your proposal.
Because the plan portion represents the meat of your proposal, it should summarize your strategy clearly and include time lines, opportunities for feedback, and provisions both for periodic evaluations and measurement of the end result. Two-way communications are extremely important to the success of most projects and, for that reason, should be built into each procedure and objective. Routine reports and approvals, explicitly provided for within your proposal, will help keep communications open and allay possible concerns during the course of the project. If your project must conform to regulatory standards, tell exactly how tests and verifications will occur. And if time or other constraints are prescribed by outside parties, describe the process you will use to satisfy those requirements.
Express costs in terms of value rather than simply stating them as prices. That is, mention that a particular component or service may seem expensive, but you have included it because it is the most cost effective course to take and will save money in the long run. By raising the issue yourself, you indicate your expertise and professionalism while deflating potential resistance.
Be aware that there may be a hidden audience whom you never see or even know about who reads your proposal after you have made your presentation; the CFO or comptroller who ultimately approves all invoices might be an example. Will that person(s) understand every point it contains without hearing you explain, "What that really means is this..."? Also remember that portions of the text may be read aloud. If a member of your audience asks, "What is our duty here where it says...," he or she should be able to read the passage smoothly without stumbling over a series of stilted phrases or hard-to-pronounce words or sounds.
Every word processing system includes a spell checker; it is there to be used. But do not depend upon it exclusively; proofread your work before submitting it. The best way to do that is to allow the proposal to sit for a day or two and then to read it aloud. You might also want to ask an associate to go over it before you make your presentation.
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